I have not sat down to write a blog post in probably well over a year. I honestly just didn’t make time for it. Over the summer, I was lucky to do a bit of traveling and see what is life like for people with disabilities in India and Eastern Europe.
While in India, I was able to stay at a Lemon Tree hotel. Their DEI initiatives were amazing. The young man who made my coffee has down syndrome, the bellman was deaf, and members of the cleaning crew were on the spectrum. When I looked around, it was amazing. It was just part of the fabric of the organization. To me, felt right at home growing up in the developmental disability community. Then when I think of Florida, I just got pissed off. This is how the world should look like. All humans are part of the all facets of life. For more information on Lemon Tree Hotels, click here.
While I was there, an article came out that a local restaurant chain, Columbia, lost 90 employees due to new immigration laws. My solution was to hire people with disabilities. The local coffee shop, Rise Up, has a 300 person waitlist just to work there because they specialize in hiring people with disabilities. 300!!! They needed 90 employees right?! The clap back from the community from ignorant people blew my mind. Here is the link to the article. Even those in the disability community responses were crazy. Hear me out. We all started with a part time job of some sort, correct? I worked in a grocery store, lifeguard, test proctor, bar tender, and taught water aerobics all before I got my degree. We all have to start some where to learn skills. Not many people stay at the same job throughout any career anymore. So why is it horrible for someone with a disability to start in food service. Doesn’t mean they have to stay there.
Croatia needs to go on your bucket list. This country is amazing. And, they are quite aware of the lack of services for adults with disabilities. They are not sure where to start. They have institutions for when parents pass but that was it. I was educated on a social enterprise called Humana. They take old clothing, recycle them into art work on t-shirts, make new clothes, slippers, aprons, and so on. They hire people from marginalized communities including people with disabilities. That is an amazing start. The fun part is people are willing and want to help.
I am so angry at the US. Here is the problem. They dismantled the institutions and then never fixed the mindset. I would be more comfortable with my brother at the Shaurya Foundation Trust 2 hours outside of Dehli than anywhere in Florida. I became head of the Developmental Disability community here and after my travels have felt more hopeless especially for Florida. It will take an all out uproar for anything to change. As the white supremacy movement carries on here, I just don’t see it happening.
We all know that I will take this anger and put it to good use. Stay tuned.